A Disappointing Zombie Flick
With lockdowns enforced across the world, there’s perhaps never been a better time to capture shots of eerie tranquility in our streets. It’s actually the perfect opportunity for would-be film crews to bring their imaginative zombie movies to life. The B-movie and Indie community have been bursting with films lately, taking full advantage of the current situation gripping the planet.
Whether it be 5G Zombies (which admittedly I haven’t seen) to The Complex: Lockdown (which I have) there’s a whole spate of films tackling this topic.
COVID-21 is the latest movie to come off the covid conveyor belt, boasting a pretty brisk pace and a relatively simple story. However, this indie is held back by a horrendous ending, a shoe-horned social message about climate change and a pretty unlikable protagonist. In fact, it takes 45 minutes before we even find out his name. While COVID-21 is a mildly amusing movie, its sequel-bait ending and mish-mash cinematography will undoubtedly turn a lot of people away from this one.
The story takes place in the near-future on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has been brought to its knees and unfortunately scientists galivanting up to the polar ice regions have uncovered a deadly prehistoric disease. Unfortunately this virus spreads rapidly across the globe turning mask-wearing civilians into brain-craving zombies.
At the heart of this story lies two very different characters brought together for a quest into hostile territory in the West. We’re introduced to a survivalist (whom we later find out is called David) early on as he prepares to brave the shops. Unfortunately, he winds up running away from a horde of murderous zombies.
That running eventually leads him into the path of Dr. Allyson, a woman who could just hold the key to humanity’s survival and cure.
When these two join up, it essentially splits its run-time in half, with Scott and Allyson heading off West while a special forces team follow in pursuit, on the same side of course but just slightly behind and playing catch-up. Along the way, there’s plenty of heavy-handed social messaging including global warming and climate change (during a hilariously bizarre segment involving snow that just sort of vanishes after a while, never to be mentioned again) and running away from zombies.
Unfortunately the characters aren’t all that likable and even Allyson winds up pretty unlikable by the end, courtesy of a slight twist over her true intentions. Scott meanwhile, is more a blank canvas bar one moment involving him looking at an old photo with regret. This is easily the stand-out moment for his character and it’s a pity that COVID-21 never builds on that to give him a redemptive arc.
Instead, the film leans into its clichés and despite a promising start, devolves into a forgettable and disappointingly bland zombie flick. It’s a shame too because tonally the opening moments include some nice self-aware jokes that hint toward this playing into horror-comedy territory.
In fact, had the movie leaned into the absurdity of its premise a little it may have become a fun horror-comedy mash-up. Instead, this film plays it straight but doesn’t have the wherewithal to pull it off effectively.
COVID-21 is sadly not a film to remember and although you can buy this one from YouTube for £3.49 (for an SD rental anyway), I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re on a mission to watch every zombie flick released this year.